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HTPC Components

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by StevieB, Sep 16, 2005.

  1. StevieB

    StevieB
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    Hi Guys, hoping some of you can help.

    About to start a HTPC build for my front room, and could do with a bit of advice.

    Let me give you a bit of background, as to what this PC will be doing.

    It will be the main control unit for my network. It has to sit in my lounge, look fantastic, but be able to stand up to all that I throw at it. It will be the main source for downloading all my DVD's/CD's to my server, I want to be able to play games on it, watch TV (I have Sky Digital at present), but it also has to be able to cope with a bit of video editing, and internet as well.
    It must be quiet as you would expect as well.

    Here is what I need. I need some advice of internal components if possible.

    I am undecided between Mcubed's HFX case and Silverstone's LC18. I know some of you have had problems with the HFX case.

    So if someone could advice me on the following things I would be grateful:

    Motherboard (It must have gigabit ethernet, PCI-x,)
    CPU (Thinking about Dual Core, for plenty of power)
    Hard Drive (I want to install 2 drives, one for the operating system, and a 250gb for recording TV onto temporarily)
    Graphics Card (I like my games)
    Sound Card (This might be an addition later)
    TV cards (Got Sky Digital at the moment, so need analogue for now, but will upgrade when HDTV finally appears)
    DVD Drive

    As far as budget is concerned, I have set aside £1,000 for the internals plus the cost of the case and cooling, this should be sufficient I think.

    Cheers in advance.

    Steve
     
  2. richjthorpe

    richjthorpe
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    Hi Steve,

    I can't really comment about the MB or CPU as I haven't got that budget to spend and don't look that high up ! :D

    But, with regards to Hard Drives, take a look a the Samsung Spinpoint drives. They come in IDE or SATA and are very quiet.

    Graphics Card, depending on the cooling of the box (And the LC18 looks to have plenty !) take a look at the new Nvidia 7800GTX. It has a fan but apparently they run quite cool and someone has said they have taken the fan off completely and it still didn't run to dangerous levels. Personally I wouldn't try this but it means you'll be able to run the fan at a slower speed reducing the noise. If this is too expensive in the grand scheme of things, look at the Nvidia 6600GT Silent Pipe. A few people on here have them and it's completely fanless. Can be got for around 120 quid.

    Sound Card, not really up on these but the name M-Audio seems to pop up a few times.

    TV Cards, I'd suggest going digital. For 60 quid you can get a Haupauge card. Black Gold are a little bit more and Nebula tops out at over a ton.

    DVD Drive, I've got an LG drive (6143 I think it is) which can burn to any format. But, it's not the prettiest of drives !

    HTH,

    Richie.
     
  3. StevieB

    StevieB
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    Thanks for the start point Richie.

    As far as the case is concerned, I am going more towards the LC18 to be honest. I've read about too many problems with the HFX case, which is a shame because it's a really nice looking case in my opinion. But it's not the end of the world, as the LC18 is a fantastic looking box.

    Just one question about what you said though mate, and that's about the TV card. If I want to run the SKy box through my PC, will I be able to do that with a Digital card?

    The noise issue is a real problem though, I want to go for a high spec machine, but if you go too high, it will sound like you live in the local airport with all those fans going, so to find that balance is really difficult.

    i remember when I got my first 48x cd drive, when it started up, it sounded like a jumbo jet taking off.
     
  4. richjthorpe

    richjthorpe
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    Just had a look at the Haupauge website and it does have an S-Video input on the card so you'd be able to do it this way. If you wanted RGB though, you'd have to get the Sweetspot video capture card which can take an RGB feed in.

    Richie.
     
  5. StevieB

    StevieB
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    Gonna have to go with the Sweetspot card then.

    I've got the Panasonic box, and it's only got RGB Scart or RF.

    Unless you can get a SCART to S-Video converter that is?
     
  6. Skunkpipe

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    The LC18's should be on the country on the 30th september according to our Silverstone supplier.

    Re all your other bits, I've spent the last week putting together and tweeking a new, no expense spared HTPC based around the LC16m, with the aim of producing a powerful, and quiet HTPC. Now I'm not exagerating when I say you cannot hear this when in a totaly silent room. Currently it's been recording TV for the last 3 days with no heat/noise issues, and quite frankly it's surpassed all expectations.

    The LC18 chassis is exactly the same as the LC16m chassis so you won't have any issues with noise if you choose the right components. The Quiet bits in ours consist of Vital Greenerger PSU (this PSU runs fanless 99% of the time, the fan spinning up occasionally when necessary - this works well with the LC16m/LC17/LC18 case in that the air for the PSU is drawn from the outside of the case rather than hot air from inside the case), Heatsink is a thermalright XP120, fan controlled by AMD cool'n'quiet and set to come on slowly at 40degrees - the CPU sits at 38 degrees most of the time so effectivly fanless), All case fans are Acoutifan dustless (all running at speed that equate to <10dB), and the HDD is mounted in a Zalman HDD enclosed to keep it a tad cooler, but more importantly isolate it from the chassis via ribber mounts. All fans mounted with silicon fan gaskets etc.
    CPU is a AMD64 x2 3800 so not short on power, HDD is Samsung Spinpoint. Gfx 6600GT fanless. Just need to do one or more tweeks before we add it to our range, but it shows what can be done if you choose you components correctly
     
  7. Skunkpipe

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    Re recording sky, If you're using MCE then the s-Video on all currently available freeview cards don't provide the hardware MPED2 encoder required by MCE. This isn't a limitation with other HTPC type apps
     
  8. StevieB

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    Out of interest mate, how much did all that come to?

    Could you do a complete list of components to give me an idea of what you've got, it will help so I know exactly what I have to get, never built a PC before, so knowing how many fans, heatsinks, HDD cages etc I need would be really helpful.

    It sounds exactly like what I want to achieve, I want a machine that won't struggle at anything it does, but keep cool at the same time.
     
  9. StevieB

    StevieB
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    As far as the Sky thing is concerned, I might just go for an Analogue card for now. I intend to upgrade to HDTV when it finally becomes available, so I know I'll have to change my card anyway.

    At least that way, I know I'll be able to record TV now.

    I am thinking of going down the MCE route to be honest, I like the format it uses, Xlobby looks interesting, but not sure I would have the confidence to program it how I want it.
     
  10. Skunkpipe

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    I have no idea how much it cost - most components were stock 'off the shelf' we have. I'll do a costing.

    I read your budget two ways.
    Is it:
    £1K for the internals, then some for the case and cooling
    or
    £1K for the internal, case and cooling.

    If the latter you'll struggle with the LC18 (we'll have this for £390+VAT) - I guess-timate £1100-1200 all in. What OS/HTPC software are you thinking of?
     
  11. StevieB

    StevieB
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    It's the latter mate.

    I have set aside £1,000 for the internals only, and then the price of the case and some cooling on top of that.

    I want this machine to cope with whatever I decide to throw at it, and if that means I spend £1,300 on it, then so bit it.

    When I first started to look at buying a HTPC, I was looking at Evesham Media Station, which by the time I'd added to the standard, was pushing £1,400 anyway, so at least if I spend that now, on my own build, my version will blow the Evesham out of the water.

    As far as O/S is concerned, I was thinking about MCE, but I need to find out a bit more info about Xlobby to be honest. It really intrigues me that one, and it seems like it can do so much, so until I really know what it can do, I'm not making a decision on that one.
     
  12. StevieB

    StevieB
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    Sorry Skunkpipe, being fairly new to the scene, I don't know anyone, so please forgive me for asking.

    Do you work for a component supplier then, or an independent PC builder? as you said that you got the parts of the shelf.
     
  13. Skunkpipe

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    We supply HTPC centric components and systems. The system I've described is one being fine tuned to expand our range. Forum rule don't allow me to say who though...but it's easy to find out if you see my member details or PM me.
    I'll post a list of components and their cost for you as a guide later.
     
  14. Skunkpipe

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    here goes; quick rundown...

    Silverstone LC16m £173.90
    AMD64 x2 3800+ £245.00
    GigaByte GAK8N Ultra 9 £90.00
    2x512MB DDR400 £65
    Samsung Spinpoint 250Gb £80.00
    HP640 DVDRW £43.00
    PSU 450w Elan Vital Greenerger £108.10
    Themalright XP120 £40
    2 x 80mm AcoustiFan Dustproof £25 (£12.50 each)
    2 x 92mm Acoutifan Dustproof £27 (£13.50 each)
    1 x 120mm Acoutifan Dustproof £16
    2x 92MM silicon fan gasket £4 (£2.00 each)
    2x 80xx silicon fan gasket £5 (£2.50 each)
    Gigabyte 6600GT Fx card £134
    XP MCE £82
    Gyration Ultra keyboard/mouse £92

    Think that's it....

    Total £1220 (inc VAT) - so add another £280 to replace the LC16m with a LC18 and you're looking at £1500

    All these components can be sourced seperatly from Scan, quietPC.com, OVerclockers etc.

    The mobo was selected as it is passively cooled and has 6 USB headers onboard (the LC16m has 4 ports to the front, plus needs one for the iMon remote and one for the VFD - imon remote and VFD work out of the box with MCE)
    The DVD is relatively expensive to the say the NEC 3540 and the Pioneer 109/110, but it is by far the quietest DVD drive I've (not) heard - even at full pelt.
    Gyration is my keybaord of choice - expensive but very very good. and the best HTPC solution IMHO. Theres a fanless non-gt version of the 6600 which will also do a good job and is about £80.

    so no cheap, and I guess it's probably there or there abouts with what you were thinking on your original budget...just add up the components that make it quiet - it's quite a chunk of the overall build cost...
     
  15. johnny

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    Dont be put off by mine or other posts regarding the hFX, its a great case and very quiet. My struggles were to do with my choice of mobo and graphics card. If you dont get the 6600GT fanless (because of the extra height of the heatpipes), and make sure you get a mobo with 4pci slots (because of the hfx blocking one pci with 3.5" drive slot) then you'll be fine.

    I'm still tweeking mine, still having a few software issues, but the case itself is great.

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
     
  16. Barbarosa

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    hfx Case is really good. I posted some comments here

    The main advice is keep away from PCI-E motherboards until more cards are available.

    Paul
     
  17. howards

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    I am currently putting together the spec for my first HTPC and so far have the following:

    Silverstone LC-16 Case
    Silverstone / SST-360 / 360-Watt
    AOpen i915GMm-HFS Intel Socket 479 MicroATX Motherboard
    Intel Pentium M 750, 1.86 GHz
    2 * Corsair Value Select 512MB PC2700 DDR 333MHz
    NEC ND3540A DVD Player
    Seagate / 250GB / 7200 / 8MB /S-ATA-150 / Hard Drive with NCQ

    and maybe

    Gigabyte 6600GT Fx card, although the motherboard comes with DVI, component video outs so may add this later if necessary.

    I was hoping that being Pentium M based it should give off less heat and therefore the stock cooling supplied with the LC-16 Case and the AOpen mobo should be good enough.

    Skunkpipe I see from your spec that you have upgraded the cooling in the Silverstone LC-16, did you experience any specific problems with the stock coolers?
     
  18. BryanKitts

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    I'm considering using the LC-16 case too, but it would be my first PC build so I'm unsure of some details. Do you know if it's possible to replace the supplied FP32 e.g. to have a built-in card reader? Also, I don't quite understand why Silverstone has put so many USB ports behind the front panel: surely you wouldn't want to leave anything permanently plugged in and spoil the look of the unit, so having (say) 2 USB ports behind the front panel and 2 hidden away at the back would have made more sense. Or am I missing something?
     
  19. Skunkpipe

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    The fans supplied are better than the usual silverstone supplied fans (new design apparently) and are pretty quiet when running at 5 or 7V. It's worth trying them out before replacing them to see if you're happey with them.The purpose of the system I built was to produce a silent, no-expense spared system with the best of everything - the AcoustiFan dustless are better than the silverstone fans and so were used
     
  20. Skunkpipe

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    The LC16 is certain proving to be popular - it's our best selling case ATM.

    the supplied FP32 can be replaced - this simply occupies the external 3 1/2" drive bay - so you could put a card reader or something else in there if you wish.

    The USB ports to the rear of the machine will be provided onboard your motherboard (Typically 4) and have nothing to do with the case layout. the motherboard will then have headers to provide more USB connections. (Typically 4 additional USB, sometime 6) - it's these that connect to the front.
    For teh LC16 it's worth noting that the iMon/VFD and the buttons on the front require 2 USB headers, so to be able to take advantage of all four front panel USB and teh iMon and the front panel buttons, you'll be needing a motherboard that provides 6 USB headers on it's motherboard
     
  21. BryanKitts

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    Can PCI-E x1 slots be used for non GFX cards? I ask because while looking at this motherboard on one site, I noticed the SLI version (GAK8N Ultra-SLI) was also passively cooled and a pound cheaper than the non-SLI one. This got me wondering: at this price, would an SLI board be a reasonable choice even in non-SLI configuration to provide a future upgrade path? It has one less PCI slot than the non-SLI version (2 instead of 3) but there are also two PCI-E x1 slots (and maybe the unused SLI slot can be used as a third?). So can these be used for tuner cards, wireless network cards etc., and if so, would using an SLI mobo in a (for the present) non-SLI HTPC be crazy?
     

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